Tu Me Manques

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I took five years of French in school. I’m primarily French and German descent, and let’s be honest, German is such a harsh sounding language. I took a year of that too, but French just rolls off the tongue and sounds beautiful. Ten years after high school, the conversational stuff has stuck with me, but I have a few sweet and romantic phrases I’ve learned for random occasions.
Normally, ‘I miss you’ doesn’t sound super sweet. Depending who is saying it, it can be annoying. I’ve always found translating phrases from English to another language, then back again, mildly amusing. Seriously, go to Google translate, and type in key phrases from the national anthem and see what happens.
However, if you translate ‘I miss you’ to French, you get ‘tu me manques’. When it translates back, you get ‘you are missing from me’.
I know that that invokes all kinds of romantic ideas. True love, forever love. How sweet!
Whenever I think of this phrase though, I think of my baby brother. My baby brother, Joshua, is about to be 27. He’s a Marine and an all around great guy. He’s a typical guy, in that he doesn’t talk on the phone much, and these days I’m lucky to get a weekly email!
When I first moved out, I was living with or near people who were all but family, so I missed him, but not as actively. Since he joined the Marines, he’s been away to boot camp, completed a tour in Japan and is about to come home from Afghanistan. These days I can’t help but think about my little brother.
Growing up, we fought, not constantly, but pretty consistently. We were also each other’s best friend. Being an army brat, you learn to make friends quickly, but no one is a more constant friend than a sibling.
He’s been my friend from Kentucky, where we were born, to Ohio, the last time we lived under the same roof. He’s still my friend, but the distance sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit down and think, gee, I really miss Josh, but every once in a while, it’ll hit me.
That’s why the phrase resonates with me. I do miss him, but once in a while, it feels like he is missing from me.
Original pin on this one takes you to a weird site, but feel free to check out the lovely and original pin on my board INTERESTING, just look me up under Stephanie DeSantis

Popsicle Bow and Arrow

I’ve been excited to try this one for awhile now, but I was doomed to disappointment. You start with popsicle sticks, dental floss, a sharp knife and q-tips.
You cut 4 small notches into your popsicle stick, 2 on each end. Once you have your notches carved, they should look like this

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Then you soak them in water for at least an hour to soften the wood. Once they’ve soaked long enough, you take them out and gently bend them, then tie your dental floss from one set of notches to the other. This is where it all went wrong.

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I’ve successfully bent assorted pieces of would, but they need to be thinner than popsicle sticks apparently. Both sticks that I had soaking broke at the bending portion of the program.
I can’t reference the original pin because the link is no longer good. This is one sad Stevie today!
I may look for some thinner sticks to attempt this later.
Assuming you manage to make this work, you then cut one end off of your q-tips to make your ‘arrows’. Try to be adult about it and don’t use toothpicks!

Wear is the Gas Tank?

This one is a little easy peasy, but I didn’t know about this before. Tony didn’t either, which to me, translates to most people don’t know.
I need to start off by bragging, just a bit, that I got a new car today. It was a great deal, which is important because we don’t bring home gobs of money. It doesn’t have a ton of miles on it and it gets good gas mileage. It is a manual, so I had to take a refresher from my honey. Did well enough to drive home from the dealership, so I’ll be taking it to work tomorrow!

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It’s an 08 Kia Rio and just as adorable as my Civic! Sadly the Civic is slowly dying so we needed to replace it before it crashed and burned.
The tip for today is the following: How to tell where the gas goes in?

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Have you ever looked at your gas gauge and seen that cute little arrow on either side of the gas pump? Life hack! That arrow is telling you what side of the car has the tank opening! I’ve been driving for 10 years and did not know this!
Sadly, not all cars have this, my Civic for instance, but many cars do so this can be handy for rentals or just borrowing your friend’s car.
You’re welcome!
For this and other great life hacks, check out http://diyhshp.blogspot.com/2012/07/tips-tips-and-more-tips.html?m=1

Color Splash

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I’m a proud mama! She is such a good sport usually about pictures, but today I had to bribe her with candy. I get my pictures and she gets something sweet.  Win-win!
I started by putting her in a brightly colored tutu, which oddly enough came with a pj set, and a fitted tank top. I decided to leave her barefoot for the picture, she used to be terrified of grass and would not let her feet touch it, thankfully she got past thay. I carried her outside and tried to set her down, but she refused. This is where the bribery came in. Candy for cooperation.  She finally decided to cooperate and let me set her down. Then I told her to run away. She is a really fast runner for such a short person! I have the BEST PHOTO option on my amazing Samsung Galaxy S4. It takes 8 photos in rapid succession so you can get at least a few that are not blurred!
For more details on that product check out https://superstevied.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/samsung-galaxy-s4/
I ended up with a few I like, such as this

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A little cropping to get closer to her and then it was on to one of my favorite photo editing apps: ColorSplash Effect Pro. I have to thank my friend Jenna for introducing me to this app, back when I had my iPhone, because I have had a lot of fun with it.
This particular idea came from an image on Pinterest, where else?! Check out the inspiration for today’s photo shoot at http://m.flickr.com/photos/ayodele/2471907307/

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

I have been looking forward to completing this pin for a while. I thought to myself, how freaking cool would this be for a Christmas present? Something quick and really easy that the whole family can contribute to.

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We started with the above supplies. Vanilla beans and 4oz Boston jars from Amazon.com, Svedka Vanilla Vodka. The original pinner recommended Svedka, mentioning later on that she’s used different alcohols for this. When we were at the state store, they had Vanilla Vodka, and we figured that would be perfect.

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The kids had a lot of fun helping me cut the beans up. You need 2 beans per jar and you cut them in half length wise and across, giving you 8 pieces per jar.

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We started out measuring the recommended 1/2 cup of vodka per jar. Tony was concerned it wouldn’t fit, but after seeing exactly where it hit on the jar, he just started eyeballing it.

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After putting the kids to bed, he had to run out for a second bottle of vodka to finish up the jars we had. He actually did the majority himself because “it’s simple and kind of fun.”
We had a lot of vanilla beans leftover and I was instructed to order more jars! He vacuum sealed the remaining ones to keep them fresh.

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Once your jars are complete, you should place them in a window so that they can ‘steep’ for about a month. So if you’re thinking about doing this for a Christmas gift, hop to!
The original pinner didn’t get her’s done in time, so she used a ‘don’t use till’ tag. We lined ours up in front of our aloe plants so they will get plenty of light!
I loved this one! It’s quick and easy, as previously stated, and best of all, Tony liked it enough to take over. Lol!
*Update* 12-21-13 Now that the vanilla has been sitting for months now, we decided to put the labels on the bottles and start giving them away. Once again, Tony took over the process, but it was a quick one, no matter who was doing this!
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Get your holiday spirit on a little early and try this one out. Check out https://superstevied.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/personalized-labels/ to see the amazing labels I ordered to go on my vanilla extract, and maybe order some of your own.
Also, be sure to check out the original pin at http://bethanyactually.com/make-your-own-vanilla-extract/

Bacon Wrapped Potatoe Bites

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Super yummy! Just had to lead with that. Pretty simple and Arthur got to help me, so that only added to the fun.
I didn’t follow the directions to the letter, so I’m going to post what I did and, as always, post the original link if you want the exact directions.
I started with some small potatoes, washed and cut into bite-sized chunks. You put them in a pot of water, sprinkled with salt, like pasta water. I let them boil for about 5 minutes, you want them tender, but not too soft.
Once the potatoes have been tenderized, put them in a bowl, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and salt. We then put the lid on the bowl and I had Arthur shake it up.

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He had a lot of fun with that! It also distracted him from the bacon on the counter! My little boy is a carnivore and was desperate for the bacon.
Once it was sufficiently mixed, I cut the slices of bacon in half and wrapped the chunks of potatoe up. We used a toothpick to hold it in place and put them on an aluminum covered cookie sheet. Place them in your 400* oven for 15 minutes.
The directions did say to flip them over and bake an additional 15 minutes. If you can figure out how to flip these over and keep them in one piece, more power to you! I ended up just putting them back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

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For the dip, take 8oz of sour cream and mix in some hot sauce, we used Frank’s Red Hot and just added a little, stirred and added more till we were satisfied with the taste.
All of us ate these, which makes it a big hit as far as appetizers go! I’d definitely recommend you try this one. It works as a dinner appetizer, game time or after school snack.
Happy snacking!
Original pin can be found at http://www.thekitchn.com/appetizer-recipe-baconwrapped-80658

Growing Babies

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Yes, these are piles of folded laundry. More specifically my kids’ laundry. Tony washes clothes, but I don’t like him folding them because I have my system. We all have our OCD moments. I’ve been a complete bum the last few days so it built up a little bit.
So tonight, as I was folding laundry, it occurs to me that my kids are growing up. Every once in a while, as a parent you have the moments of ‘OMG, when did they grow up?’ I had one of those today.
Arthur has been in preschool since he was three, so kindergarten was just the next step. Exciting and new, but not really sad.
Chiara has her first day of preschool tomorrow, so I’m not really sure how I feel. I’m happy that she’ll have some socialization time with other kids, but a little sad that she won’t need me as much. Everyone will always need their mom, I know I do, but the distance gets a little bigger with every one of these steps.
While folding the clothes, I’m mentally planning to go through their drawers to pull the small clothes out. I’m remembering when we picked up a particular shirt or outfit, thinking about how big it was when we first picked it up, and now, before I know it, it’s getting too small.
Just feeling a little mopey tonight. A little pathetic I know, but I am still so proud. Just realizing, that while they will always be my babies, they can’t stay my little babies forever. That’s both comforting and sad. Why can’t mom feelings be simple, at least once in a while?!

Personalized Labels

This is not a DIY post, but super cool nonetheless. Christmas is coming, as recently stated, and I’ve got a lot of Pinterest projects in the works for it. Some of them will require a label, and I’m not feeling up to making them myself.
I found this amazing site recently, http://www.myownlabels.com/labels/
You can choose specific styles for your labels, what you want written, and even select a picture to use.
I spent about an hour fiddling with the specifc layout I wanted before I chose the two styles I needed. There are a lot of choices!
I’m going to be making some caramel dip to go with an apple for the kids teachers this year and I wanted labels for that. I’m also about to attempt making my own vanilla extract, so that definitely called for some labels.

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They came in the mail a few days ago and I just looked and grinned for a few minutes over them! Tony gave me a goofy look over my expression, but oh well.
I’m so excited to start on my projects, even more so now that I have these adorable labels to use. Head over and check them out. Maybe you can use some for your own Pinterest endeavors…….

Love Clears the Vision

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I’ve posted about Nora Roberts / JDRobb before. She’s a brilliant author and one of the few that I can read over and over again. I may borrow her books from the library, but I pick them up to own more often than not. My goal is to own them all, and there over 200 novels written under Nora Roberts and that doesn’t touch on her JDRobb series!
I can usually pick up on similarities between books, but each story manages to be fresh and unique. Her characters may have similar traits to those already written about, but everyone has a uniqueness about them.
I think the most amazing thing about her writing, is her understanding of life and love. I’ve been reading romance since I was 13 years old and, I’m not going to lie, I started with Johanna Lindsey style writing. Big, burly heros. Plucky females, in need of a man to save her. I enjoyed them, but Nora is great for writing strong and confident female leads.
The women she writes about are both delicate and shy or strong and confident. In Chasing Fire, her heroine, Rowan Tripp, was a smoke jumper. You know, those brave firefighters who jump out of airplanes to fight wildfires? Can’t exactly be delicate to do that! Then she also writes characters like Tia Marsh, in Three Fates, who is a hypochondriac, nerdy to the extreme and insanely delicate.
Reading her books now, as a married woman, mother of two kids, some of the things she writes hit a little closer to home. As a teenager, the phrase ‘love is blind’ seems romantic. From where I’m looking now, it’s a little childish. I love the way she phrased it in Memory in Death. The shot above is near the end of the book and I think sums it up perfectly!

“Love clears the vision. You see better, sharper, because you feel more than you did before.”

I can’t even imagine having those insightful thougts just come to me. Once you read something like that, it never leaves you, kind of like, real love.
A little more philosophical than I usually get, but I finished reading that book tonight and it was winging around in my head. Where better to express myself than right here?